Sean McDermott talks endlessly about the process and laying a foundation. Down the line, maybe we'll look back Sunday's game as one when the Bills began to live up to their new coach's words and establish themselves as a legitimate NFL contender.
The Bills did a lot of things wrong on a glorious October day at New Era Field. The defense made a bunch of mistakes in coverage, which allowed Tampa Bay to rally from an 11-point second-half deficit and take a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
But the Bills didn't panic; they persevered. They showed the character of a winning team, one that rises above its own flaws in key moments in a league of imperfect teams. After blowing the lead, they gathered themselves in the critical moments and beat the Bucs, 30-27, on a 30-yard Stephen Hauschka field with 14 seconds left.
The Bills lifted their record to 4-2, tied for first in the AFC East — at least until the Pats played later in the evening. They're now 3-0 at home for the first time since 2011, with the Raiders coming to town for a big AFC battle next week.
Tyrod Taylor needed only three plays to lead the Bills to a tying TD after the Bucs went ahead late. He threw a 44-yard pass to wide-open Deonte Thompson, who was signed just days earlier. A roughness call added 15 yards. After Taylor hit Zay Jones for 9 yards, LeSean McCoy scored on a 7-yard run — he had his first two TDs of the season Sunday — to tie the game.
Adam Humphries then fumbled early in the Bucs' ensuing possession. The Bills got a key 11-yard run by Taiwan Jones — on his first touch of the season — that led to the winning field goal by Hauschka.
The Bills' pass defense again showed cracks. After allowing the Bengals to throw for 323 yards two weeks ago, they gave up 382 to Jameis Winston — not counting a ridiculous final play with about 33 laterals — who had success working the middle of the field and in the flats.
Buffalo's defense had its share of blown assignments in coverage and were fortunate that the Buccaneers made some dumb mistakes at critical moments. But the NFL's seventh-rated rush defense held the Bucs to 69 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Taylor wasn't expected to win a shootout with Winston, the top pick in the 2015 draft. But Taylor made a difference with arm and his legs. After a curiously conservative day in Cincinnati, Taylor had 53 yards rushing and was 20 of 33 for 268 yards passing.
It was the second time as a Bill that Taylor passed 30 or more times in a victory, and raised his record to 3-16 in games when the Bills trailed at any point in the game. All part of the process, right?